Move Isha Sesay to New Day

While Kate Bolduan is enjoying her maternity leave, CNN is going to try out a variety of hosts and presumably see what sticks, a producer for the morning show told me. So far, they haven’t tried anyone new or exciting to the show (last week, Brianna Keilar and Brooke Baldwin filled in; today, Michaela Pereira anchored with Christine Romans as the news reader).

Why not mix it up completely and give Isha a shot?

It won’t be as if she’s some random hire. Isha has had a long career with the CNN family, and has had significant roles on all of their three major channels that air in the US: CNN Domestic, CNN International, and HLN. At one point in Isha’s busy career, she worked for all three simultaneously . Unfortunately, she only works for CNNI now, and anchors a thirty-minute weekday bulletin, called CNN NewsCenter (and tapes BackStory on Fridays to air on the weekends).

Give Isha a shot. She’s had numerous roles — she’s the current host of NewsCenter, she used to co-host HLN’s Evening Express, she was the AC360 Bulletin presenter. So she’s proved she can handle the fluff, the hard interviews, and change. Why not have that change occur again and move her to New York?

To be fair, there’s no guarantee she’ll mesh well with Chris Cuomo or Michaela Pereira. But you won’t know if she could be the permanent replacement for Kate Bolduan that New Day is desperately searching for if you don’t try her out during Kate’s maternity leave.

Jeff Simon re-joins CNN

Jeff Simon is returning to CNN Politics. He will be a video producer, and in a statement to Fishbowl DC, he said:

“I’m grateful to The Post for the opportunities they’ve afforded me over the past 18 months. But I could not be more excited to join Ed, Rachel and the incredible digital politics team at CNN.”

Smerconish goes to tape

For the past two weeks, Smerconish has been taped in advance of its airing at 9aET. Ever since the program’s debut, until now, it had aired live.

Many have echoed my thoughts: no news show (whether it be a straight news cast or a show with commentary segments) should be taped. Smerconish re-airs at 6pET on Saturdays. That’s fine; it does very well in the ratings. But its original airing should not be taped. Too many shows that make up CNN’s weekend programming are taped (CNNMoney, Sanjay Gupta MD, Inside Politics, Reliable Sources, and Fareed Zakaria GPS), and we don’t need another taped show.

I have reached out to the spokesperson for Smerconish, but haven’t heard back.

Sunday Column

… Michael Holmes had his last iDesk on Friday; Robyn Curnow is taking over beginning on Monday. Unfortunately, he didn’t even get to sign off, much less say good-bye — his program was carrying live the United Nations. (Read more.)

… CNN International is running a relatively subdued promo of Wolf Blitzer for his program Wolf, which will begin simulcasting on CNNI Monday. Watch it here (courtesy of xgrinch). (Read more.)

… HLN is running promos, promising a live special report every weekday at 4pm on the Jodi Arias trial. In the promos are HLN’s renowned commentator hosts, Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell.

… Zain Asher (business correspondent based in NYC) is the latest to take her turn anchoring the simulcast. She had been paired up with John Vause.

Reliable Sources and Fareed Zakaria

Brian Stelter revealed that his media analysis program, Reliable Sources, will address the Fareed Zakaria plagiarism scandal. Yet on September 24th, it was reported CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker had “complete confidence” in Fareed.

Many bloggers have (unfairly, in my opinion) hounded Brian for a tweet he sent out, making fun of him for having to try to get an interview with a colleague.

Yet earlier, Brian said to me:

So although Brian didn’t get a sit down (or, better yet, maybe was told he wouldn’t get a sit down), at least he will be addressing the plagiarism allegations. It’s better to come to the party late, than not come at all.

CNNI programming changes

First at CNNCommentary! I just received a tip with the full memo CNNI boss Tony Maddox sent, announcing a slew of changes.

As part of our ongoing efforts with the NewsFirst initiative, I’m pleased to share the latest enhancements to our programming schedule.

Starting Monday, September 29, Robyn Curnow takes over anchoring duties of the 10a International Desk as well as a new 30-minute version at 12p. As you know, Robyn has recently relocated from Johannesburg to Atlanta and has done a terrific job transitioning to her new role as anchor.

We are also adding Wolf at 1p, kicking off our European prime-time lineup with a good mix of international news and topical political stories. Wolf is passionate about stories of global importance and relevance, so we think it’s a good fit for CNNI.

Also starting on Monday at 12a we will rebrand all our News Updates with the new CNN News Now format. The difference between these new bulletins and the original updates is to keep an emphasis on conversational writing, and to help our viewers navigate around the network.

In addition, we’ve been hard at work developing a new Asia morning show that strikes the right balance in tone and content for audiences across Asia Pacific and the rest of the world. On Sunday, October 19 at 6p we’ll launch CNN Today anchored by Michael Holmes and Amara Walker from Atlanta. CNN Today will set the agenda for the day’s most important news, business and sport stories. And in the weeks to follow, we will launch one of the final programming planks of our NewsFirst initiative – a breakfast-hours program block for EMEA audiences. Anchored from Atlanta and showcasing our global resources and strength, this program block will cement a significant expansion of our daily live output. We’ll be sharing more details with you in the days ahead – watch this space.

Finally, I want to acknowledge what the CNNI team has already accomplished this year. In the midst of a demanding news cycle, we’ve seen the re-launch of Connect the World with Becky Anderson from Abu Dhabi and debuts of both The Business View with Nina Dos Santos and The World Right Now with Hala Gorani in London. With these further changes, our schedule will be more robust and better positioned for the months ahead.

Rachel Crane: chief innovation correspondent

Bill Weir was originally hired as CNN’s chief innovation correspondent and host. He has been with CNN since November 2013 (so almost a year), and still, he is CNN’s only on-air correspondent without a CNN.com bio (other than Alisyn Camerota, who was just hired). A brief snippet from the memo announcing his hiring…

CNN announced today that Bill Weir is joining the network as an anchor and Chief Innovation Correspondent. At a time when CNN is expanding the definition of news, the former anchor of ABC News’ Nightline will work with producers to develop original programming across the schedule. He will join CNN in November, and be based in New York.

Needless to say, Bill hasn’t filed any reports as “chief innovation correspondent.” In fact, Bill hasn’t been on CNN since sometime in April! He is, however, supposedly shooting “a big series for the fall.”

But I digress.

So who’s CNN’s new chief innovation correspondent? Answer: Rachel Crane.

A snippet of her hiring memo from April 7th…

Starting today, Rachel Crane will join CNN as the network’s newest digital correspondent where she’ll cover pop culture and innovation.

So, when did she become the chief innovation correspondent? Good question. Dunno. However, today on a CNN commercial, they were teasing a piece by “CNN’s Rachel Crane, chief innovation correspondent.”

“Complete confidence in Fareed”

Jeff Zucker reiterated that CNN has “complete confidence in Fareed [Zakaria],” reports Politico’s Hadas Gold. When she pressed him on whether or not he would continue to appear on CNN, Zucker repeated they had complete confidence in the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS.

This comes as he has plagiarism charges against him, brought back to the surface by media watchdog Our Bad Media.

Last night, he appeared on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon and Alisyn Camerota, and I wondered how CNN’s other personalities feel about sharing airtime with an alleged plagiarist. Surely, it can’t help their own credibility?